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Ohio mayor lambasted for saying ice fishing would lead to prostitution: He ‘embarrasses our town with wild claims’

Hudson Mayor Craig Shubert expressed concern that allowing ice fishing with shanties could lead to prostitution during a city council meeting on Feb. 8. (Video: City of Hudson)
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An Ohio city council planned to cover several items during its Tuesday night meeting. They’d discuss new water billing rates and review ward boundaries.

But before Hudson City Council members ran through their agenda, the president said there was one more topic to discuss: ice fishing.

“We have a number of people who have requested the ability to ice fish on Hudson Springs [Lake],” Council President Chris Foster said. Ice fishing is prohibited there, he said, “and there have been fatalities in the past.”

Foster wanted to gauge whether the city council should consider a change to the rules. He asked for members’ opinions, and most of what followed centered around safety concerns.

Then, Mayor Craig Shubert stepped in, and the conversation took an unexpected turn. His issue with allowing people to ice fish on the lake? It could lead to prostitution, the mayor said.

“If you open this up to ice fishing, while on the surface it sounds good, then what happens next year?” Shubert asked. “Does someone come back and say, ‘I want an ice shanty on Hudson Springs Park, for X amount of time?’ And then if you … allow ice fishing with shanties, then that leads to another problem: prostitution. And now you’ve got the police chief and the police department involved.”

“Just data points to consider,” Shubert, a Republican who has served as mayor since 2019, added.

Foster appeared to be taken aback by Shubert’s remarks. The room went silent for several seconds before council members moved to the remaining agenda items.

By the next morning, a clip of Shubert’s statements was circulating on social media. The video had more than 700,000 views by early Thursday.

Shubert did not immediately respond to messages from The Washington Post. In a statement shared with Fox 8 News, the mayor said his comments stemmed “from my experience as a former television news reporter covering law enforcement agencies, which have made arrests for acts of prostitution in ice fishing shanties.”

“When discussing proposed legislation, it is wise to discuss the potential for unintended consequences,” Shubert told the station. “My statement was to enlighten council that the future permitting of ice shanties may lead to other issues.”

A spokeswoman with the city suggested contacting Shubert directly for comment. “We have no issues with prostitution anywhere in Hudson,” Jody Roberts told The Post in an email. “You would need to speak to the mayor regarding his personal comments.”

Theories about prostitutes frequenting ice shanties on winter weekends date back to at least 1988, when some reported that as many as 10,000 men gathered on Minnesota’s Mille Lacs Lake over the weekends to pay for sex, the Associated Press reported. But the folk tale has seemingly remained just that — a fish story. Back then, authorities said they had made no arrests on prostitution charges related to fishing houses.

Hudson City Councilwoman Nicole Kowalski told The Post she was astounded by the mayor’s remarks.

“However, this is not the first time he has made an outrageous statement like this, so I am not surprised,” Kowalski said in an email to The Post. “There have been no incidents like this to my knowledge, and absolutely no reason I would be concerned that anything like this would ever happen in Hudson.”

Other council members present at Tuesday’s meeting did not immediately reply to The Post’s requests for comment early Thursday. Council member Chris Banweg declined to comment in an email to The Post.

Shubert has previously made headlines for his controversial remarks. Last fall, the mayor attended a Hudson school board meeting and called for the resignation of all of its five members. Shubert criticized a book given to some high school seniors that he described as “essentially … child pornography,” the Akron Beacon Journal reported.

The mayor’s comments caused such an uproar that the police chief ordered a probe by the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office, the paper reported. Investigators concluded the book is not graphic or tantamount to child pornography. The report called Shubert’s comments at the meeting “reckless.”

While the mayor referenced “data points” in his remarks on Tuesday, Kowalski said she is not aware of any connection between ice fishing shanties and prostitution in Hudson.

“I have been contacted by many residents who have expressed dismay that the Mayor continually embarrasses our town with wild claims,” Kowalski said.

“This type of behavior is not an accurate portrayal of our wonderful town,” she added.

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